A Reflection on Ethnographies

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1. An important concept described in Hedican’s book, Up in Nipigon Country is “reflexive understandings”. The concept of reflexivity in anthropology is the process of reinterpreting data from someone else’s point of view, from someone who actually lives in the ethnographic site that the anthropologist is researching (Hedican 2001: 12). Hedican confesses that he finds this process to be very complicating (Hedican 2001: 12). Hedican states that the step-by-step process of “understanding the ethnographic reconstruction is necessary in learning about the way we accomplish our task as fieldworkers” (Hedican 2001: 12). He also states the “ability to transform nebulous currents of social behaviour into a comprehensive stream of understanding is a minor miracle in itself” (Hedican 2001: 13). Furthermore, Hedican is describing the difficulties that reflexive understanding has brought to him and how it is a long process when conducting fieldwork.

“Participant observation” is another key concept described in both Henry’s ethnography, as well as Hedican’s ethnography. My personal understanding is that participant observation means living in a culture that is not your own while also keeping a detailed record of your observations and interviews. Also, it is described as a research method to gain a close relationship with a given cultural group. Henry explains that “anthropology has a long tradition of identifying itself as a distinctive discipline on the basis of its methodology – fieldwork or participant observation” (Henry 1999: 56). Additionally, Henry suggests that “being there” (Henry 1999: 56) and “placing yourself within a field of sociality allows you to fully experience and understand the situational field” (Henry 1999: 56). I think t...

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... in the ethnographies than in school textbooks. The writing style and tone in educational textbooks are aimed specifically at students to educate them; also the material has a more serious, demanding tone. Whereas, Hedican’s ethnography is written for an audience of all age groups, and the tone of his writing is gentle and passionate, where people can relate to his experiences. However, I found similarities between ethnographies and journals, travel diaries, or even stories that you tell to your family and friends, because they all involve personal experiences that people can relate to which makes it more interesting to read. In conclusion, Henry’s work and Hedican’s work are very different pieces regarding purpose and experiences stated within it. Although, both anthropologists share similar views towards creating an ethnography and conducting fieldwork research.

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